Thursday, September 19, 2013

Coasting: Why is it so hard to stay on track?

I hit a huge mile marker Tuesday.  Several years ago I had one of those “I’ve had it” moments.  I had completely let myself go.  I had been exploring new territory on the scales consistently.  If there was some kind of food that was good for you to eat, I was choosing the opposite.  I kept buying the next size clothes.  It was not that I thought the baggy clothes would hide what was happening.  It was that I could not fit in the size I was wearing.  Sure, I had “tried” dieting – many, many times.  I would have a day, or two, sometimes even a week or two of success.  There was always some kind of “special occasion” popping up and my diet was down the tubes.  I thought, “I will just eat what I want this meal.”  Then since I had blown my diet already I will “cheat” on this meal.  Since I have blown the day, “I will just start back next week.  Maybe the week after that would be better.”
Then the switch was flipped.  When I had my moment the fight was over.  I decided it was changing and it did.  I lost thirty pounds and felt pretty good about it.  So I rewarded myself.  Yep, you guessed it.  The same script started back up.  I told myself to “take a day off, you deserve it.”  I gained ten pounds quickly.  “Oh well, it is still so much better than where I was.”   On again, off again.
“Okay, that is enough.  It is time to get serious again.”  Hard work and an eating plan worked.  It’s amazing how we always look for the “silver bullet” when the old tried and true work so well!  I lost 40 pounds (so that was a total of 60).  Then it was a back injury.  Recovery was slow.  Activity was low.  Weight crept back up. 
Tuesday I weighed in and had lost a total of 70 pounds.  The rush was incredible.  I still have a ways to go.  I have a goal and I am determined to get there.  Do you want to guess what Tuesday and Wednesday were like though?  It has been an incredible FIGHT!  “You deserve a break.  You have come so far and done so well.  You know you can do it, so why does it matter if you do it now or later?”  Every excuse you can imagine has probably run through my head the last couple of days.

So my question is, “why is it so hard to stay on track?”  You know dieting is just one experience among so many.  We need to change.  We want to change.  We work to change.  So often I settle for better.  So often I take a little break.  
What do you do to keep yourself on track?
What has really helped?
What has been of no value?

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Learning to be a dad

Especially for Dads and Husbands... stick with me, I think it will be worth it.

He was right...  I got a text this morning as I was pulling in to the parking lot for Bible Class.  My friend said, "Odd, but I was getting ready for my lesson yesterday and had in my Bible to pray for you on the 7th.  You and your family will be in my prayers."  I agreed, that is weird.  Why would he put a not in his Bible to pray for me today?  I assumed he did not have any idea why.  I could not think of one either.

About 45 minutes later it hit me... October 7.  Wow!  It has been 5 years.  Five years ago my sister called me to say that our dad had passed away.  It was a strange, painful time.  You may be thinking it is strange that I did not immediately remember the significance of the day... let's just say I had already spent 16 years learning how to deal with the pain that comes from a man who chose to walk out of my life...

Here's my point and reason for writing... I am not looking for any sympathy and really prefer to not talk about all of that... but the one burning thing for me, the thing I most want to make sure of today is this... BE SURE YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS KNOW THAT YOU LOVE THEM

Before you say, "of course they know," wait a second.  It is not enough to have said it once or many times.  Does your life reflect your words?  Do your actions give proof day in and day out of your consistent love?  Does your family know that you are proud of them?  Don't just hope or wish.  Don't let the pressures and commitments push them aside.  I wish I could say that my family never has reason to wonder... but I still have so far to go...

commit to praying often (I have 5 alarms set on my phone as a reminder to pray throughout the day for my family and others) for your mate and children.
commit to doing something every day, whether big or small, for your family that express your love.
commit to telling them early and often during each day that you love them.
commit to being the spiritual leader in your home

This really is a journey I am learning to walk... if there is something you do that will help me, PLEASE SHARE IT!!!!

Friday, January 15, 2010

in our image...

Remember when God delivered the Israelites from Egypt? They were not too far into their journey when God met them at Mt. Sinai. The presence of God was seen by the cloud covering the mountain... there was thunder and lightening... it was an awesome scene. Moses stayed on the mountain for a while... the people thought it was too long. When they got tired of waiting they went to Aaron and asked him to make them a god who would go before them. Although the idol looked like a calf, the truth is it was really a god made in their own image.

They worshipped the calf and did for the calf exactly what they thought this new made god would want. Where did they come up with this? It was what THEY THOUGHT! Thus they have a god made in their own image.

I've been reading Job this week... I always enjoy reading Job. It is, to say the least, an interesting study. This week one thing has impressed me more than anything else... In Job there are 4 "friends" who are "encouraging" and rebuking Job. They have concluded that all these bad things have happened to Job because God is punishing him. What I had to keep reminding myself of was that what we have is 4 guys lying about God - at least much of what they think about God is not true. They too have made the God of heaven a god in their own image. Here is what I mean - God must be this kind of god, and do these kind of things... because if I was God, that is what I would do.

Sometimes I just want to skip to the best part... Job grows increasingly frustrated by his friends and even he questions the justice of God. Finally God has had enough. That's enough of you guys talking about Me... you think you know so much about Me... you think you know what I do... how I do it... and why I do it... Now, you are going to call Me in to defend Myself... and My actions?
"Who is this that darkens counsel By words without knowledge? Now gird up your loins like a man, and I will ask you, and you instruct Me! Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together And all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who enclosed the sea with doors When, bursting forth, it went out from the womb; when I made a cloud its garment And thick darkness its swaddling band, and I placed boundaries on it And set a bolt and doors,
and I said, Thus far you shall come, but no farther; and here shall your proud waves stop?
Have you ever in your life commanded the morning, And caused the dawn to know its place, that it might take hold of the ends of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it?"

This is what I call an attitude adjustment. God has had enough and puts them all in their places.

Reading what Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, Elihu and even Job say about God, makes me wonder... how am I guilty of making God into my image of God. What I think God would want... say... do...

God would only forgive if...
God will only forgive when...
God will always do...
God would never do...
God could not...

This list could go on. Here is the challenge we all face. We are created in the image of God... and we must be sure that we do not return the favor to Him of creating Him in our own image. The only way to really know Him is to take Him at His word. To listen to what He has said about Himself... to pay attention to what He has revealed by His very consistent interaction with mankind.

Today... draw near to Him.
Today... take Him at His word.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

God in a box

Do you remember playing with a jack in the box? If not, can you remember watching a young child play with one? The younger the child was... the greater the surprise when Jack finally pops out. The older you get the more you have the thing figured out. If I just keep cranking this handle long enough... the lid will pop open and Jack will surprise me with his appearance.

I remember having a jack in the box that was broken. If you cranked the handle it still played the music... but it did not matter how long you cranked the handle the door was not going to open... Jack was not popping out... the music was not that good. I figured out that you could take something and pry the lid open... Jack would pop out... but it was not the same! You can probably guess how long I continued to play with this toy... NO, I do not still play with it! It was QUICKLY discarded. I mean the problem was the Jack in the box... it was not me. I could handle my part just fine, thank you very much. But no matter how I did my part... he just would not do his part.

This morning I was reading 1 Samuel 4. The Israelites are at war with the Philistines. On this day the Philistines route the Israelites - 4,000 of them died. When the soldiers get back to camp an interesting conversation takes place. They ask "why did the Lord bring defeat on us today?" I can imagine the suggestions that were made. The amazing thing to me is the conclusion they come up with. This will fix our problems. Since God did not take care of us today... this is what we will do SO THAT GOD WILL DO WHAT WE WANT TOMORROW... let's take the ark of the covenant... then God will fight for us.

Does that sound like Jack, I mean God in a box to you? Let's carry this box (yes, it was a very special box, but come one) out to war tomorrow. If we take our God in a box... He will have to fight for us... He will have to give us victory.

The next day... when the ark comes into the camp the Israelites start the celebration... the Philistines wonder what is going on. When they find out here is what they say, "a god has come into the came, we're in trouble! Nothing like this has happened before. Woe to us!" Are they right? Is that how it works... bring out your box... turn the handle... out pops your god... and victory is assured?

Not a chance. Here is the next paragraph. "So the Philistines fought, and the Israelites were defeated and every man fled to his tent. The slaughter was very great..." WHAT? WHY DIDN'T IT WORK? I mean they brought out their god. They were sure it would work. The enemy was sure it would work. Why did this "great" plan fall apart?

God does not fit in a box. He cannot be controlled... manipulated... ordered... the problem is they had a little g god... just like the Philistines. Oh sure, they called on the one true God... but they treated God like a little g god... just like an idol... As some of my students have said, God don't play that game.

Today... how do you view God?
Today... how do you approach God?
Today... is it time to hit your knees one more time... to acknowledge who He is... what He has done... to submit to His will... to seek His paths? If your god fits in a box... you have no God.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Rejoice... you have a hope that lives!

This is the last in a series of blogs about dealing with the challenges of life (at least it is the last one I have planned right now!).

Peter wrote to a church that was facing times that would at least eclipse the difficulties I face... I suspect that is true for all of us. Here is a simple list (of course with a little discussion!) of the things that make joy possible when we are in the fire of suffering. Be sure to read 1 Peter 1:3-9!

We can have joy because...
1) The Father has great mercy. I know this will come as a shock to many of you... but there were occasions when I was growing up that I would be disciplined even though I did not deserve it. HOLD ON! What I mean by that is... I was being punished for something I did not do. On more than one occasion my protests regarding such cruel treatment found this response. "OK, you may not have done that, but you have gotten away with plenty." How could I respond? If this teenager was into full disclosure... I may have said, "you have no idea!" My dad was simply using what he knew I had done, and not been punished for, as a cover for this time. He did not know all that I needed to be punished for. God does. His mercy is when He does not give me what I deserve. I agree with Peter - that's GREAT mercy!

2) He has given us new birth. When I deserved the very worst, God not only decided to give mercy, He also gave grace. New birth far surpasses a "do-over." And this is not just a new birth, it is a new birth into a hope that lives. There is a difference between hope that empowers living... that would be good, and a hope that lives. We have been given hope that can never die. It can never die because the One who gave it is risen from the dead! Jesus will never die. The hope Jesus gives will never die!

3) We have been given an inheritance that is untouchable. It never wears out. It never loses any of it greatness, and we should never lose our gratefulness!

4) By our faith we are shielded... when we keep on trusting... keep on walking by faith... God keeps on protecting us!

Today... rejoice. The storms are real... but they do not compare to the power... the blessing... the hope we have as those who have received the best God has to give!

Friday, August 07, 2009

choosing not to get all worked up...

today is part 4 in dealing with the clouds and storms that come our way... I hope you have found something helpful... I KNOW it has been for me!

The storms are real... sometimes the clouds are thick... it can be really difficult to keep on going... to see anything but the problems. Is there anything we can do? YES! Here is a different route... and it does make a difference.

"Rejoice in the Lord, I will say it again, Rejoice! Be gentle with everyone. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Read that verse again. Sometimes the difficulties in life seem to come from other folks. Have you ever noticed some folks are hard to put up with? How often do we get worked up over something someone said or did... did not say or do? Do you ever feel like just writing someone off... being done... giving them a piece of your mind... setting them straight? Be careful... this first step is to be gentle. When we have trouble with folks we need to remember we have needed and wanted someone to be gentle with us... in the same way we need to be gentle.

The best reason to be gentle is the Lord is near... how often has He chosen to be gentle with us? Only when we forget how much we have been forgiven of will we be in the spot of not being gentle with others. When we remember how much we have been forgiven of we are able to forgive more easily.

When we remember that the Lord is near it helps us handle all of the problems that come our way. We can choose to get worked up over them... or we can choose to pray. When you feel yourself becoming anxious about something... PRAY! Start praying to the Lord who is near... and keep on praying. All of the sudden you will find what this verse promises... the peace of God will come... you will not understand it, but it will be there... your heart and mind will find peace.

Today... have some joy
Today... be gentle
Today... remember He is right there with you
Today... talk to the Father about what you are worrying about
Today... enjoy the peace

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

well... what do you know?

Have you ever thought you knew something for sure... but still had that "lingering doubt" about whether it really was exactly the way you thought it was? Maybe an illustration will help. During our most recent roller coaster ride on the stock market... I was not sure what to do. There were some advisers that I really trust... who kept saying in the market's history it has ALWAYS gone up in a 10 year period... therefore, it will again this time... just sit tight... hold on... it will be ok. I believed their history lessons... I knew what they were saying was true... BUT!!!!!!!!!!

Today is part 3 in dealing with the storms of life... James said, "Think about all of the hard times that come in your life differently. I know it is hard to do but you KNOW that when your faith is tested it produces perserverance. God has you on a course here, perseverance must complete the course, and you will then be mature and complete, nothing will be missing." (James 1:2-4)

Here is one of those REAL challenges regarding what we know! James teaches us that we can think differently about all of the hard things... and he is careful to say they come in many different forms and in many different levels of intensity. Think for a moment what your first reaction to hard times is. Do you ever wish... especially after the storm has blown over... that you had responded differently? James says we can... and it all depends on what we know!

Are you interested in what we know that can change the way we respond to hard times? Me too! It is right there in the passage... we know that God is not only able to use the hard times... we can know that He is using the hard times to help us grow.

Have you ever faced something that in the moment seemed too big.. too hard to handle? Of course you have... we all have. Now, as you look back on it, you see that you were able to handle more than you thought... and if you look closely enough, you will be able to see that in some way... either big or small, God has matured you through that difficult experience!

This is a test of faith... the testing develops endurance... and if we will keep on trusting... keep on walking with the Lord... He will work in our lives to make us mature... complete... so that there will be nothing lacking. Think about that. I would love to be there, wouldn't you? It is easy for me to see where I fall short... I long for the day when I am finally grown up in Christ. Until that day we can take assurance and find comfort in this truth... God is at work in us... using even the most difficult of times to help us get there.

Today... hang on.
Today... step back from the difficulty and think a little differently about it.
Today... remember what you KNOW... because of the one you KNOW!